The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Week-end Wrap – Political Economy – July 17, 2022

by Tony Wikrent


Stunning new Webb images: baby stars, colliding galaxies and hot exoplanets 

[Nature, via Naked Capitalism 7-13-2022]


Strategic Political Economy

The Power Game 

W. J. Astore (Lieutenant Colonel USAF ret.), [Bracing Views, via Mike Norman Economics 7-10-2022]

A book that shook my world was journalist Hedrick Smith’s “The Power Game,” published 35 years ago in 1987. It was about “How Washington really works,” and what I remember about it is how it made me feel, as in discouraged and outraged. I learned about the power of lobbyists, the power of money, and what money gains you, which is access. More-or-less legal forms of corruption in 1987 are now most definitely legal, with the Supreme Court decreeing that corporations are citizens and that money is speech….

One thing I really liked about Hedrick Smith is his honesty. He gave a talk on his book, link here:

Where he explained that, if you’re a politician and you accept certain campaign donations, it’s understood between both parties that when the donor needs you to vote a certain way, you will vote that way, no questions asked. Everyone in Congress understands this. It’s why every effort by real citizens to get big money out of politics fails. It fails because the big donors won’t have it. They like to be able to buy politicians, thank you very much. That’s how democracy works, so says the Supreme Court. If you don’t like it, start your own corporation, make a few billion, then you too can buy your own politician.

A revival of democracy in America starts with campaign finance reform, which most politicians say they’re for even as they vote against it. Sounds like a conundrum to me. Can we solve it by explaining to our esteemed justices (John Roberts, can you hear me?) that money is not the same as speech and that corporations really aren’t the same as citizens?

Finally, a rather obvious point, but it bears repeating. Justices like Thomas, Roberts, Kavanaugh, Gorsuch, and Barrett weren’t just selected because they were reliable votes against abortion. They were really vetted and selected because they will always rule with the powerful against the powerless. They are, in a word, pro-corporate.


“Pushed To The Brink”

Jesse & Tyrel Ventura [Die First Then Quit, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 7-15-2022]

“From the Police, to the Supreme Court, to Congress, across the board U.S. citizens are losing faith in our vital institutions in record numbers. Notably, the biggest drops in citizen confidence from last year to this year were found in the institutions of the Presidency and the U.S. Supreme Court. They both fell 15 and 11 percent, respectively. This doesn’t come as a surprise given how feckless the Biden Administration has been when faced with the major political, economical, and social challenges we’ve seen over the last year. Rising inflation, Roe v. Wade, Climate Change… just vote harder…. This nose dive cuts across all party lines as well…. How much farther can we fall or maybe the better question is what happens to a populace that loses all faith in its institutions? The answer to that maybe found in a recent polling data collected by the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, which discovered that a majority of American’s believe their government is corrupt and rigged against them. Pigging backing on that, the data also revealed that ‘more than one in four Americans are so alienated from their government that they believe it may ‘soon be necessary to take up arms’ against it.’ One in four Americans. That’s a truly frightening statistic. That should make anyone’s blood run cold after reading it. Violent revolution is not the answer. Any student of history will tell you that a political revolution based on violence hardly ever brings actual freedom to a country.”


Polling: Nation Feeling Crisis of Confidence

David Dayen, June 24, 2022 [The American Prospect]

By a 68-10 margin, respondents agree that “the United States is in decline.” Two-thirds of those polled agreed that “The American economy is rigged to advantage the rich and powerful,” with 14 percent opposed. They agree 65-10 that “traditional parties and politicians don’t care about people like me.” And they save some ire for the mainstream media, which by a 70-13 margin they say is “more interested in making money than telling the truth.”


Michael Hudson: The End of Western Civilization – Why It Lacks Resilience, and What Will Take Its Place

{Naked Capitalism, July 12, 2022]

…What distinguishes Western economies from earlier Near Eastern and most Asian societies is the absence of debt relief to restore economy-wide balance. Every Western nation has inherited from Rome the pro-creditor sanctity of debt principles that prioritize the claims of creditors and legitimize the permanent transfer to creditors of the property of defaulting debtors. From ancient Rome to Habsburg Spain, imperial Britain and the United States, Western oligarchies have appropriated the income and land of debtors, while shifting taxes off themselves onto labor and industry. This has caused domestic austerity and led oligarchies to seek prosperity through foreign conquest, to gain from foreigners what is not being produced by domestic economies driven into debt and subject to pro-creditor legal principles transferring land and other property to a rentier class….

Rome never was a democracy. And in any case, Aristotle recognized democracies as evolving more or less naturally into oligarchies – which claim to be democratic for public-relations purposes while pretending that their increasingly top-heavy concentration of wealth is all for the best. Today’s trickle-down rhetoric depicts banks and financial managers as steering savings in the most efficient way to produce prosperity for the entire economy, not just for themselves.

President Biden and his State Department neoliberals accuse China and any other country seeking to maintain its economic independence and self-reliance of being “autocratic.” Their rhetorical sleight of hand juxtaposes democracy to autocracy. What they call “autocracy” is a government strong enough to prevent a Western-oriented financial oligarchy from indebting the population to itself – and then prying away its land and other property into its own hands and those of its American and other foreign backers.


International Trade and MMT with Keen, Hudson

Michael Hudson [On Finance, Real Estate And The Powers Of Neoliberalism, via Mike Norman Economics 7-14-2022]

A central tenet of the World Bank from the beginning is to convince countries not to grow their own food, but to create plantation agriculture to prevent family-owned farming of food, to grow plantation export crops and they become dependent on the United States for their grain….

If you were going to develop your agriculture in the global South countries, you’d do pretty much what the United States did in the 1930s that had the most rapid increase in productivity of any industry in the last few centuries. And that was because the government took the lead in agricultural extension services, seed testing, educating farmers as to seed variety, setting up local farm management organizations.

Before the time that Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland became the great intermediaries in promotion of domestic self-sufficiency for farms, the World Bank wouldn’t make any loans at all for this, even though the World Bank local commissions and reports all said that this is what they need. The World Bank was almost always headed by someone very close to the US Military, starting with John J. McCloy at the beginning and going through McNamara and all of the subsequent Pentagon people who were put in charge of the World Bank.

And above all, they wanted to continue to base America’s export boom in agriculture and to make other countries food dependent.


In Eurasia, the War of Economic Corridors is in full swing

Pepe Escobar [The Cradle, via Mike Norman Economics 7-14-2022]

The War of Economic Corridors is now proceeding full speed ahead, with the game-changing first cargo flow of goods from Russia to India via the International North South Transportation Corridor (INSTC) already in effect.

Very few, both in the east and west, are aware of how this actually has long been in the making: the Russia-Iran-India agreement for implementing a shorter and cheaper Eurasian trade route via the Caspian Sea (compared to the Suez Canal), was first signed in 2000, in the pre-9/11 era.

The INSTC in full operational mode signals a powerful hallmark of Eurasian integration – alongside the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), and last but not least, what I described as “Pipelineistan” two decades ago….

The genesis of the current acceleration lies in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s recent visit to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s capital, for the 6th Caspian Summit. This event not only brought the evolving Russia-Iran strategic partnership to a deeper level, but crucially, all five Caspian Sea littoral states agreed that no NATO warships or bases will be allowed on site….

Purnima Anand, head of the BRICS International Forum, has stated that Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Egypt are also very much keen on joining BRICS. Should that happen, by 2024 we could be on our way to a powerful West Asia, North Africa hub firmly installed inside one of the key institutions of the multipolar world.


YOU LOVE TO SEE IT: Chile Proposes New Constitution

Ricardo Gomez, July 16, 2022 [The Lever]

In Chile, a democratically elected convention proposed a new constitution that centers on environmental justice, gender equality, and worker empowerment. The document attempts to recognize Indigeneous autonomy and guarantees access to health care, abortion, housing, education, and pensions…. Recent Economist articles have attempted to discredit the new constitution. But as media critic Adam Johnson noted in response to these stories, “In defending the 1980 Pinochet-era constitution, The Economist, however, probably ought to note how much the magazine played an active role in not only overthrowing Chilean democracy 50 years ago, but how much it propped up and defended the subsequent dictatorship known for right-wing death squads and mass killings.”


The capitalist solution to ‘save’ the Planet: make it an asset class & sell it 

John Bellamy Foster interviewed by Lynn Fries [MR Online, via Mike Norman Economics 7-12-2022]

There was a big change that occurred in the fall of 2021, between September and November in the context of the UN climate negotiations, where three new initiatives were introduced or brought to the forefront.

One is the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, which brings together all the big financial corporations. All the big banks and hedge funds and so on all came together combining let’s say $130 trillion in assets. These are all basically the Western banks and hedge funds. And they claimed that they were going to organize, to financialize nature in order to produce a net zero carbon economy globally.

The month before, the New York Stock Exchange together with the Intrinsic Exchange Group introduced a new asset class on the New York Stock Exchange called Natural Capital Assets. That really had to do with this process of creating structured financial vehicles to create revenue streams from ecosystem services. That could then be financialized and debt built upon them and so on. All in the name of again, saving nature.

And finally in the climate negotiations itself, they basically agreed on a plan for a world carbon trading mechanism that had been introduced in 2015 Paris Agreement but all the details hadn’t been worked out. So this established at least the basis for a global carbon trading mechanism, which would again, financialize nature.

This has resulted in a huge expansion just in the last few months of attempts to financialize the earth. To turn ecosystem services, really basic ecosystem services like photosynthesis and the production of oxygen in the environment and things like that into monetary asset exchange value that capital can own. Or at least maybe nation states will own and capital will essentially manage and this can turn into financial assets.


Harpers Declares It’s Over – The ‘American Century’ Is Gone 

[Moon of Alabama, via Mike Norman Economics 7-13-2022]


Liberalism, conservatism and the lack of discussion of civic republicanism

Will No One Defend the American Republic?

Ryan Cooper, July 8, 2022

A truly odd part of all this, and I suspect one reason why there is such an air of despair in liberal circles today, is that the opposition party is currently in control of the government yet is largely just sitting on its hands…. What explains the helpless passivity of President Biden, Attorney General Merrick Garland, and the rest of the Democratic Party leadership?

….One hypothesis is often called “institutionalism.” In a recent profile of Dianne Feinstein, Rebecca Traister writes: “From her youth, Feinstein has been an institutionalist, with an institutionalist’s respect for structure, management, and hierarchy as means to manage the rabble of activism and protest. She seems unable to appreciate the possibility that partisan insurgents have overrun those institutions themselves.”

This is well observed but I think it is better called chauvinist cowardice…. I think what Feinstein exhibits instead, along with the rest of the Democratic do-nothing caucus, is a sort of childish, willfully stupid faith in the crystalline perfection of American institutions—the kind of belief that manifests as denial whenever it conflicts with reality, which is to say all the time. The institutions do not work well or as designed, in fact they are terrible in a dozen obvious ways, but confronting this would mean facing the truth that America is not God’s chosen nation—that in fact it just another country like all the others, and indeed is far behind most of its peer wealthy nations in the quality of life (or life, period) enjoyed by its citizens….

Defenders of the republic are thin on the ground elsewhere. On the right, of course, the conservative movement is currently engaged in a conspiracy to destroy the Constitution and the republic, while characteristically bleating that they are defending it from left-wing attack, in classic “why do you make me hit you, baby?” fashion.

On the left, we don’t even have agreement about the actual desirability of democracy in general or the American republic in particular. On the extreme left electoral democracy is dismissed as a veneer covering up bourgeois domination, and revolution the only way to achieve justice. Others accept the value of democracy, but attack American electoral institutions as unrepresentative and unfair, full of rotten boroughs and veto points abused by the rich. Perhaps most common is an air of critique of almost all aspects of American society—our rattletrap welfare state, our wretched inequality, our ancient and obviously anachronistic Constitution, and our vast and horrible military empire….

But it is a different matter to conclude that America is unalterably terrible, which is frankly the tenor of most discourse on the left these days….

Those two factors combine with the fact that the left has been completely shut out of national power for many decades to produce a enervating lack of confidence in its ability to win or wield power. The result is a political faction that, while it has many entirely valid critiques of U.S. society, does not seriously believe in American institutions nor its own legitimacy in contesting to control them—just like the liberals. The field is left clear for the fascist right to claim the mantle of American symbols while destroying the Constitution and setting up a fascist dictatorship.


Opinion: Who killed the republic? It’s not Donald Trump

Diane McWhorter, July 6, 2022 [CNN]

But often, in our obsession with the personal malignancy of Donald Trump, we tend to give a pass to those institutional players who might have contained him before his pathologies became civically systemic.
Republicans in the Senate like Shelby (a former Democrat), Charles Grassley, Roy Blunt and on down the roster to especially Mitch McConnell were the adults who knew better, aloof from the cult of crazy. Yet when called to fulfill their oath to the Constitution in not one but two impeachment trials, they did nothing, even though taking a stand would ultimately have cost them little — not that their oath includes any such opt-out.
How must these statesmen feel now that the Ukrainian head of state they refused to punish Trump for kneecapping has become the Winston Churchill of our time?
….We’ve endured years of the abnormal being normalized, and now the corollary of that is being enshrined in the current election season: Normal has been rendered taboo. Hence, Britt could not afford to acknowledge a ritual so routine in American life that it has taken place every four years since 1789: A presidential election was held, and the results were deemed legitimate. An NBC reporter briefly perforated her Stop-the-Steal-ish mantra and got her to admit she would have objected to the certification of President Joe Biden’s victory if she were in the Senate — which even Shelby did not do….
But as William Faulkner warned in Life magazine 66 years ago, the mindset we now call MAGA is impervious to reason or consequences. The novelist’s 1956 “A Letter to the North” making a case against “compulsory integration” of the South (although he was equally “opposed to compulsory racial inequality”) warned that his region was never going to be changed “by the simple will of the national majority backed by legal edict.”
The North seemed to think the Civil War had taught the South that it was wrong. But the southerner, including Robert E. Lee, “already knew he was wrong,” Faulkner wrote, “and accepted that gambit even when he knew it was a fatal one.” Likewise, as the January 6 hearings have laid out with grim meticulousness, Donald Trump and his men and women knew what they were doing not only was wrong but, according to Hutchinson’s sworn testimony, potentially encompassed “every crime imaginable.” That insurrection proceeded as well.

The carnage of mainstream neoliberal economics

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 7-12-2022]



Even Socialists Misunderstand Indexing 

Barry Ritholtz, July 15, 2022 [The Big Picture]

Unquestionably, the rise of BlackRock, Vanguard Group, and State Street is a good thing – for investors, people’s retirement accounts, and even for Labor (which one would imagine someone like Sanders supports). These three firms stand in stark contrast to the traditional Wall Street asset managers…. For most of the 20th century, investing was expensive and complicated. Wall Street’s biggest brokerage firms preyed upon peoples’ hot buttons: Greed & Fear. They were very good at getting people to chase markets at the top, and panic trade out at the bottom. “Churn ‘em & Burn ‘em” was the strategy to maximize revenue relative to assets under management by the non-fiduciary brokers. Their gains were quite literally their clients’ losses….

But the past 2 decades have seen a move away from traditional Wall Street brokerage, and towards Advisors who are fiduciaries; they charge a percentage of assets as a fee instead of commissions. Their interests are aligned with their clients’, and the better the clients’ portfolios do, the more the advisor will make; the worse they do, the less they make….

Broadly speaking indexers own every stock (excepting the pink sheet or penny stocks). So of course these three “are major shareholders in more than 96 percent of S&P 500 companies.” This is by design. They are major shareholders in the entire market! They have bulked up not through nefarious means, but rather, by providing better long-term performance and at a lower price….

What the Senator needs to recognize is just how much money these 3 firms have saved small investors over the decades. My colleague Eric Balchunas called this “The Vanguard Effect” and noted in a Bloomberg column that as of 2016, Vanguard saved investors $175 billion in fees since it was founded in 1974. The competition by Vanguard – a mutual which is owned by its clients, and not publicly traded – forced its competitors to cut fees by at least that amount. It’s inevitable that within a few years, the total fee savings for investors by Vanguard, Blackrock, and State Street versus what Wall Street would have otherwise charged will soon be well over $1 trillion dollars.

[TW: Ritholtz ignores the issues of the social, economic, and political effects of that much concentration of wealth.]


How the Fed ended the last great American inflation — and how much it hurt

[Vox, via The Big Picture 7-14-2022]

Forty years ago, the Fed pushed the economy into a recession to stop inflation. Here’s how it played out.


The Financial Bubble Era Comes Full Circle 

Matt Taibbi [via Naked Capitalism 7-10-2022]

… I spent much of the last month researching the #CryptoCrash, and the last week and a half engaged in an increasingly maddening search for a civilized and respectful way to write about one particular actor: Circle Internet Financial, makers of USDC, at $55 billion the second-biggest stablecoin in the world.

I’m giving up the hunt for “civilized and respectful.” That dog lived a long life, but it now must be taken out and shot. I’ve dealt with many frustrating institutions, from Bank of America to the press office of the FSB, but none produced such headaches. They’re the mother of all black boxes, and God help anyone invested in them….

Getting back to Circle, I reached out with simple questions. Do USDC holders bear bankruptcy risk, or not? Will they be making money lending their reserves or not? The firm at first was solicitous and seemed anxious to educate about their company structure. Then the answers became contradictory. Then they became “nuanced.” Finally there was so much spin, the company’s name began to make unpleasantly ironic sense.

For instance, Circle “is not a trust,” but believes it holds funds in trust; USDC both is and is not a virtual currency (it may be a “stored value product”); and in the unlikely event of a bankruptcy, USDC holders would be “shielded from Circle creditors,” although nothing is bullet-proof and of course there’s risk.


Railroad Profit-Making Strategy Comes at a Cost 

David Dayen, July 14, 2022 [The American Prospect]

A looming strike and struggles with a proposed merger could reflect a reckoning for the rail industry’s determined efforts to squeeze capacity….

The backdrop to this looming labor unrest, and the larger supply chain crisis, is the rail industry’s big bet on throttling its own capacity. Class I railroads have reduced their workforce by 29 percent over the past six years, according to the unions. In the middle of the supply snarl last summer, Union Pacific closed service for a week between Los Angeles and Chicago, two key hubs, due to a lack of equipment or manpower.

As the Prospect has reported, Wall Street has effectively controlled the prerogatives of the industry, directing massive consolidation and “precision scheduled railroading,” a euphemism for running faster and longer trains, demolishing resilience, and sidestepping safety considerations. In other words, the largest rail companies intentionally gutted their own spare capacity, which meant the surge in goods production during the pandemic has produced skyrocketing freight prices—and then record profits—instead of more deliveries….

WORKERS HAVE A NUMBER OF COMPLAINTS that go back to the significant changes in rail since the industry was deregulated with the Staggers Act of 1980. In 1976 there were 63 Class I railroads in the U.S.; today there are just seven, and the Canadian Pacific/Kansas City Southern merger would take that to six.


Disrupting mainstream economics

Have We Passed Peak Capitalism? — Blair Fix

[economicsfromthetopdown, via Mike Norman Economics 7-12-2022]

The first step of the analysis, then, is to select a corpus of ideological texts. To capture feudal ideology, I use a sample of 22 modern English bibles. I use modern translations because I don’t want text that contains archaic words (like ‘thou’). And I use the Bible because christian theology formed the backbone of European feudalism.1 To capture capitalist ideology, I use a sample of 43 introductory economics textbooks. My claim is that these textbooks deal mostly in capitalist metaphysics; they describe a fantasy world of self-equilibrating markets in which each person earns what they produce.2

With my sample of biblical and economics text, I first isolate the jargon words of each corpus. Then I use the Google English corpus to measure how the frequency of this jargon has changed over time. (As a consistency check, I also analyze the text in paper titles on the Sci-Hub database and book titles in Library Genesis.)

…. The evidence suggests that economics ideology peaked around 1980, with biblical ideology reaching a minimum around the same time (or shortly thereafter).


New Ways to Teach Economics

Joris Tieleman and Sam de Muijnck [Evonomics, via Mike Norman Economics 7-10-2022]

As two young economists from the Netherlands, we grew up in a world of reliable economic progress. Our education reflected this: a technical toolkit for tinkering and optimizing market mechanisms. Our professors felt no need to question or even mention the institutions and norms that made these markets work, to teach us any non-market mechanisms, to describe actual economic sectors, or to discuss the ecological foundations of our society and economy….

Current programs teach students a narrow skill set, geared to deliver graduates who can quantitatively model market dynamics based on the neoclassical paradigm. Such skills have their uses. But as these programs are theoretically narrow and math-centered, they leave out many of the core elements that shape our economy and leave key questions unasked and unanswered….

What we need are programs which, step by step, introduce students to the economic system as a whole and to various ways of understanding it. Building on a decade of work by the Rethinking Economics student movement and with input from some 150 professors throughout the field, we have created a toolkit to design such programs: Economy Studies.

Harold Meyerson, July 14, 2022 [The American Prospect]
Today on TAP: California Gov. Newsom announces that the state will make and distribute insulin at cost.
Ricardo Gomez, July 16, 2022 [The Lever]
“Nothing epitomizes market failures more than the cost of insulin. Many Americans experience out-of-pocket costs anywhere from $300 to $500 per month for this lifesaving drug. California is now taking matters into our own hands,” Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said in a recent video…. In order to confront the market and price gouging, California will invest $100 million to develop much cheaper insulin and an in-state manufacturing facility.

There is No Nobel Prize in Economics

J.R. Swenson [Naked Capitalism 7-11-2022]


They’re not capitalists – they’re a criminal predatory class

How Uber won access to world leaders, deceived investigators and exploited violence against its drivers in battle for global dominance

[International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, via The Big Picture 7-16-2022]


Uber leak: Company used violence against its drivers to win favor over taxis 

[Washington Post, via Naked Capitalism 7-11-2022]


“‘Uber Files’: Huge leak of confidential documents blows open murky background of ride-hailing app”

[Sky News, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 7-11-2022]

“The report reveals the extraordinary lengths that the company undertook to establish itself in nearly 30 countries, becoming one of Silicon Valley’s most familiar exports. The company’s lobbyists – including former aides to President Barack Obama – sought to persuade government officials to drop their investigations into the company, rewrite labour and taxi laws and relax background checks on drivers, the papers show. The investigation found that Uber used ‘stealth technology’ to fend off government investigations. The company, for example, used a “kill switch” that cut access to Uber servers and blocked authorities from grabbing evidence during raids in at least six countries. The Uber Files team reported that during a police raid in Amsterdam former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick personally issued an order: ‘Please hit the kill switch ASAP … Access must be shut down in AMS (Amsterdam).’”


The Uber whistleblower: I’m exposing a system that sold people a lie 

[Guardian, via Naked Capitalism 7-12-2022]


Information age dystopia

How mercenary hackers sway litigation battles

[Reuters, via The Big Picture 7-14-2022]

A trove of thousands of email records uncovered by Reuters reveals Indian cyber mercenaries hacking parties involved in lawsuits around the world – showing how hired spies have become the secret weapon of litigants seeking an edge.


The Secret Police

[MIT Technology Review, via The Big Picture 7-10-2022]

A private security group regularly sent Minnesota police misinformation about protestors There are 13 private security guards for every one police officer in downtown Minneapolis, but these groups are far less regulated than police departments.


Meet the Ex-CIA Agents Deciding Facebook’s Content Policy 

[Mint Press News, via Mike Norman Economics 7-12-2022]

Studying Meta’s reports, as well as employment websites and databases, MintPress has found that Facebook has recruited dozens of individuals from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as well as many more from other agencies like the FBI and Department of Defense (DoD). These hires are primarily in highly politically sensitive sectors such as trust, security and content moderation, to the point where some might feel it becomes difficult to see where the U.S. national security state ends and Facebook begins.

In previous investigations, this author has detailed how TikTok is flooded with NATO officials, how former FBI agents abound at Twitter, and how Reddit is led by a former war planner for the NATO think tank, the Atlantic Council. But the sheer scale of infiltration of Facebook blows these away. Facebook, in short, is utterly swarming with spooks.


Collapse of independent news media

The New Kremlinology: Reading the New York Times — With censorship soaring and real reporting all but taboo, the major dailies have just one important function left: being a political signaling system

Matt Taibbi [TKNews, via Mike Norman Economics 7-14-2022]

This week, all that changed. Add stories like “Biden Promised to Stay Above the Fray, but Democrats Want a Fighter” and Michelle Goldberg’s “Joe Biden is Too Old to Be President Again,” and what we’ve got is a newspaper that catches real history spasmodically and often years late, but has the accuracy of an atomic clock when it comes to recording the shifting attitudes of elite opinion.

Whether through Emily Bazelon’s Times Magazine piece “The Battle Over Gender Therapy,” or Michael Powell’s “A Vanishing Word in the Abortion Debate: Women,” or even the Editorial Board argument from late May, “The War in Ukraine is Getting Complicated, and America Isn’t Ready,” the Times has become a place where the public often learns about key facts, pressing international controversies, or trends in American thought only once these have been deemed suitable for public consumption by an unseen higher audience. An all time effort in this direction was “Hunter Biden Paid Tax Bill, but Broad Federal Investigation Continues,” in which the paper allowed some of its better reporters to quietly confirm a story about Hunter Biden’s laptop two years after keeping more or less mum as the story was tabbed Russian disinformation.

Along with companion outlets like the Washington Post and The Atlantic (as pure a reflection of establishment thought as exists in America), the paper in this sense fulfills the same function that Izvestia once served in the Soviet Union, telling us little or even less than nothing about breaking news events (“Can NATO Long Exist?” was among Pravda’s final questions in 1991) but giving us comprehensive, if often coded, portraits of the thinking of the leadership class.


Documents show Bill Gates has given $319 million to media outlets to promote his global agenda 

[Grayzone, via Naked Capitalism 7-16-2022]


Climate and environmental crises

Start cleaning your home more sustainably with these tips  

[NPR, via Naked Capitalism 7-12-2022]
[Washington Post, via The Big Picture 7-15-2022]
Indigenous tribes are leading the effort to bring back the bison — a victory not only for the sake of biodiversity, but for the entire ecosystem they nurture.
[Green, via The Big Picture 7-14-2022]
Once 5% of new-car sales go fully electric, everything changes — according to a Bloomberg analysis of the 19 countries that have made the EV pivot.
[TW: Click through to review table showing electric cars as percent of new car sales for 19 countries in first quarter of 2022. Norway leads, 83.5%; followed by Iceland, 51.7; Sweden, 28.7%; and Denmark, 17.4%. USA is 5.3%. ]
GABRIELLE GURLEY,  July14, 2022 [The American Prospect]

In this third summer of the pandemic, the American Public Transportation Association’s mid-February to April ridership data shows that transit ridership nationwide is at 60 to 65 percent of pre-pandemic levels. Bus networks are something of a bright spot; in urban areas, they show steady and encouraging ridership trends. Systems operators that equipped drivers and buses with robust COVID sanitary regimes saw riders coming back at a fairly steady clip once people ventured back out into the streets. Low-income people and people in neighborhoods of color continued to ride buses throughout the pandemic to get to jobs, shops, and medical appointments.

It’s the subway networks that have registered some of the biggest ridership declines. Social media from Washington to Boston and Chicago to San Francisco is overflowing with complaints about delays or crime—or both—that compromise systems’ ability to deliver on their core deliverable: safe, clean, reliable public transportation. American subway systems always had long lists of negatives: assaults, weird behaviors, delay-causing mechanical meltdowns, abundant filth, and more. But the pandemic crime surge has transformed the underground travel environment into a dangerous one.

In his analysis of the impact of remote work on transit, Phil Plotch, the Eno Center for Transportation’s principal researcher, argues that ridership may not return to pre-pandemic levels for at least another decade and observes that “perceptions about public safety are a serious challenge to increasing ridership.” Taking transit has long been a prime urban convenience—but today, transit takes more time and requires a higher tolerance for threats to personal safety.

Creating new economic potential – science and technology 

[IEEE Spectrum, via The Big Picture 7-15-2022]

Freed from the limitations of compatibility with the 80X86 processor family, the secret N10 team started with nothing more than a virtually blank sheet of paper. To cut down on bureaucracy and communications overhead, [Leslie Kohn] determined that the N10 team would have as few engineers as possible.


Democrats’ political suicide

“Poll Shows Tight Race for Control of Congress as Class Divide Widens”

[New York Times, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 7-13-2022]

….the confluence of economic problems and resurgent cultural issues has helped turn the emerging class divide in the Democratic coalition into a chasm, as Republicans appear to be making new inroads among nonwhite and working-class voters — perhaps especially Hispanic voters — who remain more concerned about the economy and inflation than abortion rights and guns. For the first time in a Times/Siena national survey, Democrats had a larger share of support among white college graduates than among nonwhite voters — a striking indication of the shifting balance of political energy in the Democratic coalition. As recently as the 2016 congressional elections, Democrats won more than 70 percent of nonwhite voters while losing among white college graduates.


Biden’s Bad Judges 

Matt Stoller [BIG, via Naked Capitalism 7-13-2022]


More than 1 million voters have switched to the GOP over the last year, data show

[Inquirer, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 7-15-2022]

“More than 1 million voters across 43 states have switched to the Republican Party over the last year, according to voter registration data analyzed by The Associated Press. The previously unreported number reflects a phenomenon that is playing out in virtually every region of the country — Democratic and Republican states along with cities and small towns — in the period since President Joe Biden replaced former President Donald Trump. But nowhere is the shift more pronounced — and dangerous for Democrats — than in the suburbs, where well-educated swing voters who turned against Trump’s Republican Party in recent years appear to be swinging back. Over the last year, far more people are switching to the GOP across suburban counties from Denver to Atlanta and Pittsburgh and Cleveland. Republicans also gained ground in counties around medium-size cities such as Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Raleigh, North Carolina; Augusta, Georgia; and Des Moines, Iowa.”


This Michigan Primary Could Shape Gig Workers’ Rights

Julia Rock, July 14, 2022 [The Lever]

Due to redistricting, two sitting Democratic lawmakers — progressive Rep. Andy Levin and the more conservative Rep. Haley Stevens — are vying to see which will represent Michigan’s new 11th congressional district. While the Levin-Stevens race parallels other standoffs this midterm cycle between the left and corporate wings of the Democratic Party, this particular contest could have especially important consequences for workers, given the two lawmakers’ positions on the powerful House Committee on Education and Labor.

In 2019, Stevens attempted to add an amendment to the Democrats’ signature labor legislation — the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act — that closely mirrored the demands of gig companies to exclude their workers from being classified as employees, and as a result, from key state and federal labor protections….

This history and other past moves suggest Stevens, who boasts powerful endorsements from the likes of Hillary Clinton and millions in support from groups tied to the pro-Israel advocacy group American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), could be a key ally for big corporate interests if she wins.

While both Levin and Stevens both currently sit on the House Labor and Education Committee, after the election, only one of them will remain. If Republicans take the House, as they are expected to do, Stevens could provide a key vote on attempts to exclude gig workers from employee classification.


AIPAC Has Taken Over the Democratic Primary Process

Alexander Sammon, July 14, 2022 [The American Prospect]

But the Maryland race is especially notable for both the Democratic forces AIPAC is now opposing and for the stunning quantity of cash it has dedicated to the cause: Already, UDP has spent some $6 million boosting Ivey and opposing Edwards, by far the most money the super PAC has poured into any individual race in the cycle. And it’s not merely to knock off a Squad-type progressive: Edwards, who has already served a decade representing the same Fourth District as a Democrat, is a close ally of Democratic leadership and endorsee of everyone from Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Hillary Clinton.

That race, which will be decided on Tuesday, marks the continued advance of AIPAC into the Democratic electoral process, an unprecedented development that has, in just a few months, remade the reality of Democratic politics. In a number of races earlier this year, United Democracy Project put up millions of dollars to back more-conservative candidates, which proved remarkably successful. The $2 million-plus that UDP poured into North Carolina’s First District resulted in an easy victory for anti-choice candidate Don Davis; $2.1 million pushed conservative Valerie Foushee over the finish line in NC-04; $2 million almost certainly made the difference in Texas’s 28th, where conservative Henry Cuellar squeaked past Jessica Cisneros by fewer than 300 votes; $2.7 million on behalf of Steve Irwin nearly closed a 25-point polling gap in Pennsylvania’s 12th District, as he lost by the narrowest of margins to progressive Summer Lee. UDP-produced ads have been repeatedly criticized in multiple races for relying on misleading messaging, but the group has otherwise been met with little resistance or condemnation from leading Democrats.


‘A real chilling effect’: A Lefty Scholar is Dumping CAP — For AEI

[Politico, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 7-15-2022]

Ruy Teixeira: “‘My perspective is, the single most important thing to focus on in the social system is the economic system,’ he tells me. ‘It’s class.’ We’re sitting in AEI’s elegantly furnished library. Down the hall, there’s a boisterous event celebrating the conservative intellectual Harvey Mansfield. William Kristol, clad in a suit, has just left the room. Teixeira’s untucked shirt and sneakers aren’t the only thing that seems out of place. ‘I’m just a social democrat, man. Trying to make the world a better place.’ How Teixeira came to be talking about the essentiality of class politics while sitting a few feet from a stack of books by Lynne Cheney says a great deal about the state of the American left, where the 70-year-old researcher felt alienated — and about the American right, where a once-dominant think tank that fell afoul of Trump die-hards has brought him aboard. To hear Teixeira tell it, CAP, and the rest of Washington’s institution-based left, stopped being a place where he could do the work he wanted. The reason, he says, is that the relentless focus on race, gender, and identity in historically liberal foundations and think tanks has made it hard to do work that looks at society through other prisms. It also makes people nervous about projects that could be accused of giving short shrift to anti-racism efforts. ‘I would say that anybody who has a fundamentally class-oriented perspective, who thinks that’s a more important lens and doesn’t assume that any disparity is automatically a lens of racism or sexism or what have you … I think that perspective is not congenial in most left institutions,’ he says.”


Disrupting mainstream politics

Activists collect record number of signatures for Michigan abortion-rights ballot measure

Laura Clawson, July 12, 2022 [Daily Kos Staff]

Michigan voters will have the chance to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution in a November vote after activists turned in 753,759 signatures to get a ballot vote. That’s not just well over the 425,059 required to get onto the ballot, it’s a record in the state. The Bureau of Elections and Board of State Canvassers need to sign off on the signatures, but it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which more than 300,000 signatures are disqualified.


Oligarchs’ war on the experiment of republican self-government

Where Did the Religious Nuttery Come From?

Thom Hartmann, July 11, 2022 [DailyKos]

The rightwing billionaires and the corporations and foundations aligned with them knew back in 1971 — when Lewis Powell laid out their strategy in his infamous Powell Memo the year before Nixon put him on the Supreme Court — that most Americans wouldn’t happily vote to lower billionaires’ taxes, end unions and regulation of gun manufacturers, or increase the amount of refinery poisons in our air.

So the strategy they came up with to capture control of our government was pretty straightforward:

  • *Convince Americans that taxes aren’t “the cost of a civil society” but, instead, a “burden” that they were unfairly bearing. Once Republicans were elected on that tax-cut platform, they’d massively cut the taxes of the morbidly rich while throwing a small bone to the average person.
  • *Convince Americans that regulations that protect consumers and the environment are also “burdens” from an out-of-control “nanny state,” even though such regulations save lives and benefit Americans far more than they cost.
  • *Convince Americans that unions aren’t “democracy in the workplace” that protect workers’ rights but, instead, an elaborate scam to raid workers’ paychecks to the benefit of “corrupt union bosses.”


But hating on unions, taxes, and the environment — and loving on guns — wasn’t enough to reliably win elections over the long run. They needed a larger bullhorn, a way of reaching into the lives of additional tens of millions of American voters who really didn’t much care about those issues.

That’s where Jerry Falwell and his friends came into the picture.

Falwell was an inveterate grifter, hustling Jesus to build a multi-million-dollar empire while ignoring Jesus’ teachings about humility, poverty, and the need to care for others. A new, muscular Jesus — a Jesus who endorsed assault weapons and private jets for preachers — came to dominate much of America’s protestant Christianity.


The (Anti)Federalist Society Infestation of the Courts

The Supreme Court’s Gone Rogue — And This is a Judicial Coup

umair haque, July 1, 2022 [Eudaimonia, via The Big Picture 7-10-2022]


The Case Against Judicial Review

Ryan Cooper, July 12, 2022 [The American Prospect]

The Court also recently agreed to hear a case on the “independent state legislature doctrine,” which holds that state legislatures have total power over their electoral systems. If the ruling goes conservatives’ way again, it would allow gerrymandered Republican legislatures to hand the presidency to their own party in 2024, striking another blow against democracy itself.

This disaster is being perpetrated by perhaps the least democratically legitimate Supreme Court in history. Five of the six right-wing justices were appointed by presidents who took office after losing the popular vote… In 2016, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell held one seat open for a year, in violation of all precedent and the text of the Constitution, to ensure his preferred replacement. Republicans have had a Court majority since the Nixon administration, even though they have won the presidential popular vote just once since 1989….

Judicial review does not appear in the Constitution and is not firmly rooted in American tradition. For roughly the first three-quarters of the 19th century and the middle third of the 20th, those powers were heavily circumscribed by tradition and competition from the other branches of government. And for good reason: When the Court has exercised sole power to interpret the Constitution, with rare exceptions it has used that power to obliterate Americans’ constitutional rights, uphold white supremacy, and protect abusive corporations from unions and the regulatory state.

While challenging the judiciary is commonly associated with Andrew Jackson, the two best presidents in history, Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt, had no choice but to directly confront the Court in order to advance justice. If America does not follow their lead, presidential powers will evaporate along with those of Congress and the freedom of the American people.


In a historic term, momentum to move the law often came from the five justices to the chief’s right 

[SCOTUS Blog, via Naked Capitalism 7-12-2022]


The Supreme Court has pushed America to the brink.

[Prescriptions, via The Big Picture 7-10-2022]

In a ruling that crossed out five decades of its own case law, five justices on the Court—three of whom have been appointed for less than five years—held that the Constitution does not, in fact, guarantee a person’s right to health care decisions regarding reproduction, and that previous decisions by the Court which held precisely the opposite were all, simply, wrong. Shortly before that, the same Court ruled States cannot pass laws regulating guns unless they are “consistent with this Nation’s historical tradition,” invalidating dozens of laws across the country that ban assault weapons or the open carry of firearms in certain places. The pair of decisions will, as a certainty, cause the deaths of American citizens—and pose an existential threat to the continued acceptance of the legitimacy of American government by its own citizenry.

The latter threat manifests in two ways. First, the decision on abortion is a breach of the political contract the Court has largely abided by for decades. It is a violation of its own core doctrines, and evidence that the decision is politically motivated calls into question the Court’s legitimacy. These flaws will lead to a dramatic increase in calls to fundamentally alter the structure of the judiciary or our government—further exacerbating the country’s already-breathtaking political divide. Second, the decisions violate the fundamental notion that any government’s primary concern should be keeping more of its citizens alive than dead. This may seem like an obvious concern, but such considerations don’t appear to matter to the current Supreme Court. Instead, a small group of the Country’s most powerful judges appointed for life now spend more time worrying whether their own reasoning and writings adhere to “Originalist” academic theory than whether their conclusions are consistent with protecting the general tenets of life and liberty. It is true that the words “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” appear in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. But the Founders declared* these rights to be unalienable—meaning they cannot be ceded or transferred away. While judges and justices owe their fidelity to the law and the Constitution, they dishonor such fidelity when their own hubris and personal viewpoints on constitutional theory create a culture of ectopic pregnancies and mass killings. “Let them eat cake,” the Court’s Originalists say, so that the rightwing justices may continue an academic exercise of formalizing the theories of Antonin Scalia into the entirety of American constitutional law.

Except here, “eat cake” means “die of a blood infection due to a miscarriage that cannot be treated because the Supreme Court says you have no right to certain medical treatment.” Or it means “be slaughtered under a tiny desk in a kindergarten classroom because the Supreme Court values archaic texts more than the lives of citizens.” A Court that does not care whether you live or die, but only whether its views are sufficiently “Originalist,” is not a Court of prudence or wisdom or governance at all, but instead just an offshoot of a political organization. And when any branch of government does not concern itself with the safety and health of its citizens, it is simply not a sustainable form of government….

But Americans are mostly not scholars. They are not preoccupied with defining terms and engaging in rhetorical arguments based on 178-year-old papers found in a university library. To the typical citizen, the notion that the Supreme Court may have blown its own legitimacy to smithereens will make sense—even if the scholars disagree. Because the sentiment across America regarding the Dobbs decision is that this whole thing feels like a scam.

The reality is that the Court’s move in Dobbs was only possible as a result of a string of borderline illegitimate acts pushed by a rightwing movement. Four of the five justices who voted to strike down Roe previously testified under oath that they would not do so in order to obtain votes of approval to even sit on the Supreme Court. A Senator blocked the Senate from even holding a hearing on a sitting President’s nomination to a vacant Supreme Court seat, even though the Constitution gives the President the right to nominate and the Senate the right to consent to or reject (but not ignore) that nomination. A political party allowed a President to fire FBI Directors, Inspectors General, national security officials, and anyone else who investigated his conduct with no repercussion, all while that same President was making lifetime appointments to America’s highest Court. This is not to mention the Senators who then voted to block the certification of election results from other States simply because their preferred candidate lost the election in those States. The icing on the cancerous cake of illegitimacy came later that same month, when the Senate acquitted the President impeached for telling his armed supporters to go to the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to halt the certification of his election loss. Extra toppings continue to be added, with the continued with election of new officials who refuse to certify any election where progressives, liberals, or anyone who doesn’t subscribe to rightwing theory wins….

In his bizarre attempt to explain his dismissal of the relevancy or significance of the murder of American citizens who pay his salary, Alito betrayed his belief that his American Government has no interest in stopping some, even a small portion, of mass shootings. This is the kind of utterly unsustainable view of governance that transforms the Court’s rulings on guns into an existential threat to the continued legitimacy of its authority….

Do not forget—it is we who consent to being governed by the Supreme Court, and the other branches of government, so that they may enable us to pursue life (and liberty and the pursuit of happiness). Any governmental institution that openly questions why it should concern itself with our right to be alive violates its oath to protect and defend the Constitution, as well as the more the ubiquitous duty of government to keep citizens safe from death or serious harm.

Conservative / Libertarian Drive to Civil War

White Supremacists Aren’t “Lone Wolves”

Kathleen Belew  David Hogg  Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz [Boston Review, July 13, 2022]

RDO: I was thinking this week about the influence of a racist tract by Louis Beam called “Leaderless Resistance,” which I remember circulating in the incredibly early days of the Internet—this was in the mid-1990s, and there was no social media, but there were emails lists that people were using to share messages with hundreds and even thousands of people. And in this document, Beam encourages white supremacists to make their attacks look like the actions of a lone wolf so that no one would know they were organizing.

KB: Beam’s work is a fascinating case. Beam was a multi-tour Vietnam veteran who came home from the war and first joined an existing Klan group, and then founded his own Klan group, and then ascended into the white power movement’s leadership structure. And when I say white power movement, I’m talking about the organized network of Klansmen, neo-Nazis, skinheads, militiamen, radical tax resisters, and others who came together in the late 1970s and have been involved in a revolutionary war on the U.S. government since 1983. This is a movement responsible for the Oklahoma City bombing. This is the movement that we’re still seeing playing a role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol, and in other moments of “Stop the Steal” politics.

Beam wrote “Leaderless Resistance” in 1983, and it was reprinted and recirculated in 1992… The concept of leaderless resistance has been an incredibly useful strategy for them. It is, in effect, cell-style terrorism, where one or a few white power activists can work without direct contact with others, but toward a commonly held set of targets, and without contact with leadership. Among other things, it allowed them to evade all of the federal informants who had infiltrated Klan groups in the 1960s, and to make it harder to prosecute them in court.

But the bigger consequence is that the white power movement has been able to pull this incredible disappearing act, where it just looks like a whole bunch of disorganized lone-wolf violence. And because of this what we end up with is misperceptions such as the fact that, for example, the Oklahoma City bombing is not remembered as the most devastating act of domestic terrorism on U.S. soil but rather the act of a few bad apples. So leaderless resistance is an incredibly important philosophy for these activists.


Stochastic Terrorism: Triggering the shooters.

G2geek, January 10, 2011 [DailyKos]

[TW: I believe this is the internet posting that introduced the term “Stochastic Terrorism,” which now appears to be an accepted concept in a number of professions — though we have yet to see any legal action taken against perpetrators such as Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, and Sean Hannity.]

The stochastic terrorist is the person who uses mass media to broadcast memes that incite unstable people to commit violent acts.

One or more unstable people responds to the incitement by becoming a lone wolf and committing a violent act.   While their action may have been statistically predictable (e.g. “given the provocation, someone will probably do such-and-such”), the specific person and the specific act are not predictable (yet).

The stochastic terrorist then has plausible deniability: “Oh, it was just a lone nut, nobody could have predicted he would do that, and I’m not responsible for what people in my audience do.”

The lone wolf who was the “missile” gets captured and sentenced to life in prison, while the stochastic terrorist keeps his prime time slot and goes on to incite more lone wolves.


Sen. Josh Hawley predicts the overturning of Roe v. Wade will cause a ‘major sorting out across the country’ and allow the GOP to ‘extend their strength in the Electoral College’

[Business Insider, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 7-15-2022]

From late June, still germane: “‘I really do think that this is going to be a watershed moment in American politics,’ [Hawley] said on a call with reporters on Friday. ‘The first decision — the 1973 Roe decision — fundamentally reshaped American politics, it ushered in the rise of the Christian conservative movement, it led to the forming of what became the Reagan coalition in 1980.’” • This sounds like a myth of origin. I am not at all conversant with movement conservatism in the 1970s and 1980s. Readers, is this myth true?


Arizona Republican candidate in ad says AR-15 needed to fight against ‘Democrats in Klan hoods’

Tara Kavaler, July 7, 2022 [Arizona Republic]


The Texas Republican Party platform is official. What it says and what we learned

[Star-Telegram, via Naked Capitalism Water Cooler 7-15-2022]

“In addition to calling homosexuality “an abnormal lifestyle choice,” the platform opposes same sex marriage. It asserts that Texas retains the right to secede. Delegates voted to replace the property tax system, support school choice and reject “critical race theory” and gun free zones. The platform calls for medical freedom and the repeal of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Delegates also rejected “critical race theory” and supported a law “more comprehensive” than the one in Florida that prohibits instruction on sexual orientation or gender identity…. ‘This is kind of the gloves off moment for the Republican Party,’ said Brandon Rottinghaus, a University of Houston political science professor.” The gloves weren’t off already? More: “The platform is also used as a way to push lawmakers further in delegates’ desired direction in a state where a Democrat hasn’t won statewide office since 1994. ‘There will always be Republicans who see … the kind of policies the base wants as being way too far,’ Rottinghaus said. ‘The base, the activists know that they need to set the bar higher so that they can use that as a way to pressure those leaders to steadily move in that direction.’”


The insurrectionists’ clubhouse

[Grid, via The Big Picture 7-12-2022]

Former Trump aides find a home at a little-known MAGA hub. Nearly two dozen alleged members of the Jan. 6 plot are connected to a single Capitol Hill address.


Film offers inside look at Roger Stone’s ‘Stop the Steal’ efforts before January 6 

[The Guardian, via The Big Picture 7-11-2022]

Footage shows key moments of planning with fellow activist Ali Alexander to overturn election results in Trump’s favor.


Why Local Officials Are Facing Growing Harassment and Threats 

[Citylab, via The Big Picture 7-12-2022]

Anger over Covid measures and a polarized political landscape have fueled attacks against mayors and other local officials, especially women and people of color.


The Dark Side

[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 7-13-2022]



Bolton goes on Newsmax to defend ‘coup’ comments

[The Hill, via Mike Norman Economics 7-13-2022]


[Twitter, via Naked Capitalism 7-11-2022]



Open Thread


As the Sun Sets on the United Kingdom


  1. bruce wilder

    Diane McWhorter (CNN): How must these statesmen feel now that the Ukrainian head of state they refused to punish Trump for kneecapping has become the Winston Churchill of our time?

    I watched the first attempt to impeach Trump over his ham-handed attempt to get the corrupt Zelensky to investigate the corrupt Biden. What I saw was, first, an extension of Russiagate hoax (itself a joint venture of the intelligence agencies and the Democratic Establishment including Clinton herself), second a determined attempt to overlook the deep corruption of Ukraine (which had in fact entangled the Biden family as well as other American political operators), and third an attempt by Deep State actors who were bound and determined to wrest control of foreign policy back from the mercurial Trump.

    All three were assaults on “our democracy” if you had your eyes open, but the last was the most dangerous. Characters like Faith Hill and Alexander Vindman were deeply invested in the policy of NATO envelopment of Ukraine, which is now taking the U.S. and Western Europe to economic ruin and the very real risk of nuclear war.

    Trump was a terrible President and has mental health issues, but now they’ve got the kind of zombie President they wanted, who fist-bumps Mister Bone Saw and can’t find his way out of a room without help. So good for the republic to have a young, vigorous visionary leader at a time of crisis! NOT.

    The people who were trying to suggest Trump was a traitor to his country for political advantage and impeach him to save their war-mongering policies are not trying to “save the Republic”. They may believe “our Democracy” is in danger, but that possessive is not sharing.

    Realism is going to be very dark and pessimistic in our time, but these fantasies that any of the Democrats are a “lesser evil” or their mainstream Media supporters are at all trustworthy — we just need to stop this nonsense.

  2. Trinity

    “… expansion just in the last few months of attempts to financialize the earth. To turn ecosystem services, really basic ecosystem services like photosynthesis and the production of oxygen in the environment and things like that into monetary asset exchange value that capital can own.”

    So, we are to be charged for metered oxygen, along with food, rent, water, etc? This is straight out of The Expanse. And basically nothing gets done unless profit is filtered to the right people. What else is new?

    “Or at least maybe nation states will own and capital will essentially manage and this can turn into financial assets.”

    The interviewee is dreaming if he really thinks the plan is for nation-states to own anything at all, other than politicians and figure heads.

    And Jesse Ventura is worried about when the tumbrils will start rolling, while ludicrously misstating history. Seriously, when you have backed someone into a corner and have made sure they have nothing to lose whatsoever, what do you expect?

  3. VietnamVet

    Democratic Republics have a feedback system with the common people — elections. Since the 1970s this was taken away. Now all political/economic decisions are based on if it makes money, or not, with absolutely no consideration of the costs in human lives or the environment. Corporations are people who can legally buy politicians. All that matters is increasing the wealth of the connected.

    Since Washington DC is totally divorced from reality, the American President can have dementia or mental illness, and it doesn’t make a bit of difference. Like all out of control systems, the Western Empire is spinning apart. Unlike the breakup of the Soviet Union, there is a proxy world war underway, right now, in Ukraine between NATO and Russia. With the collapse of communication and the loss of rationality, human beings are unlikely to survive the super-powers’ inevitable nuclear war.

  4. Ché Pasa

    Tony’s Weekend Wrap Up has provided us this time with quite a litany of woe. Not that they’re ever particularly cheery, but the sense of foreboding looming over practically every item is palpable.

    Particularly interesting and portentous is the declaration of Our Rulers that “ecosystem services” — every thing and condition enabling life — are to be commodified, financialized, and profited from (by the few) for the benefit and preservation of the earth.

    If I read the story right, this has been decided. Like everything else decided by our betters in their protected enclaves, we the rabble have nothing whatever to say about it.

    This may be dystopia writ large — for us, not for them — and the cascading effects on the well being of individuals, societies, nation states, and even empires matters not at all when the over arching goal is the preservation and well being of the geo-sphere itself — oh, and by the way, the further and perpetual profit of the Highest of the High and Mighty.

    This is something the Masters of the Universe would have come up with decades ago — some of us know these sorts of people and know their thinking — and who bided their time until crisis conditions concentrated the minds of the Overclass enough to feel they had to do something. Now. Not in another several decades. Now.

    And so it will be.

    One thing about these people is that their intentions are generally no secret, it mostly goes on in the open, and the vileness is only masked to the extent we’re able to fool ourselves and fight among ourselves. For… ?

  5. Willy

    A useful exercise might be to imagine that you’re Bernie Sanders and you’re the POTUS. How would you deal with the mountain of disinformation coming at you from your many powerful enemies? How would you deal with Joe Manchin? Or the corporate media?

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